Ann Arnold, the Greenfield, New York woman convicted of 19 counts of failing to provide food, shelter and vet care to her horses (14 of whom were rescued by CAS in October 2011), was sentenced last week. Greenfield Judge Michael Ginley, who had stated that “…any non-horse person could plainly see that most of these horses were literally ‘skin and bones’ and critically undernourished,” ordered Arnold to give up her remaining horses within 60 days, prohibited her from owning horses for 3 years, and imposed a $500 fine and $7,000 in restitution to the SPCA of Upstate NY. Perhaps most importantly, Judge Ginley required Arnold to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine whether she has an obsessive compulsive disorder related to the “hoarding of animals.”
CAS applauds Judge Ginley for taking action to help ensure that no horses will suffer at Arnold’s hands. Hoarders are sometimes perceived as caring people trying to alleviate the homeless animal crisis. In reality, however, many suffer from extreme mental illness that leads them to “collect” animals without regard for the animals’ safety and well-being, often resulting in tragic consequences.
In our eleven year history, while CAS has rescued animals from a wide range of cruelty situations, well over half have come from hoarding situations. You likely know many of these past and current residents, including Rambo the sheep, Nadine and Peggy Sue the pigs, Atlas the goat, Declan the turkey, and the 14 horses we rescued from Arnold. Thankfully, the horses have fully recovered, except for gentle Timothy who passed away suddenly. However, these few were fortunate to have received a second chance — most animals endure starvation, dehydration, extreme filth and overcrowding, illness and untreated injuries at the hands of hoarders. Each year, thousands die.
You can lessen both animal and human suffering by learning to spot the signs of animal hoarding, alerting your local SPCA and law enforcement officers when you know of a problem, and persisting, if necessary, on the animals’ behalf, since all too often, those mandated to investigate turn a blind eye.